It has been a remarkable journey for Clonakilla. When John Kirk planted the first vines in 1971 he had no idea that his vineyard would one day be celebrated as one of the best in the country. Along the way there have been trials and tribulations as well as moments of unprecendented success. Over time something important has become clear: Murrumbateman and Shiraz are one of those rare combinations in the world of wine that can produce something truly exciting.
Clonakilla winery is a family business, established by John Kirk in 1971. Developing a vineyard and winery business was originally a weekend distraction for John. He had first developed an interest in wine when he was fourteen. His parents owned the Hydro Hotel in Lisdoonvarna, County Clare, Ireland. When he came home from boarding school one summer he was given the job of looking after the bar and stocking the hotel cellars.
To get a handle on his new responsibilities he began to read about the great wine regions of Europe. He soon became smitten with the idea of wine. His personal knowledge of the subject was greatly expanded through his years of study at Cambridge University, his post doctoral work at Oxford and his time as a lecturer in biochemistry at the university town of Aberystwyth in Wales. In 1968 John took up an offer to come to Australia to take a research position with the CSIRO Division of Plant Industry in Canberra.